Dave & Sue

Dave & Sue
On The Job

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Still Livin The Life!

Welcome back to our Blog!  A lot has happened since last we met here on our little Blog. We worked on that job Near Bossier City, LA for, just a day shy of 3 months, so we spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years alone but not really alone.  We didn’t get to spend the Holidays with our own Families but rather with our Oil Field Family.  We had no lack of food during these Holidays either.  Between the drilling Crew bringing everything from Louisiana Gumbo to Smoked Turkey and Ham and the other Gate Guard Crew bringing cookies and the land owners furnishing a complete Christmas Dinner with all the fixings, we were definitely over eaters.  Then there were all the sales people bringing different offerings of food and little gifts.  This all helped us get through the Holidays with a little less loneliness but we still missed our families!
On December 30th I made a trip to Waco TX for a couple Dr. appointments which I had scheduled for the 31st.  Had I known we would be moving so soon and to be in Alvarado in a couple weeks, I would have waited a bit and saved driving a couple hundred miles.
We left Bossier City on January 8th and immediately headed for our next assignment near Pointblank Texas.  We spent only 10 days there while they did their clean up of the well area then we were released and sent to the Gate Guard Services storage lot near Buffalo TX.  Shortly after arriving there, our Boss offered us a position for a drilling site near Mansfield TX.  It was a temporary job actually filling in for another GG Couple that was on vacation in California until the first week of March.  The catch was they wouldn’t start drilling for about 10 days so we would have a little time off.  We agreed it would be nice to have a little R&R, so on Sunday the 11th we moved up to the GGS (Gate Guard Services) lot near Alvarado, TX to wait. 

On Monday we got together with a few of our friends in the Lake Whitney area and had a wonderful meal at Johnie and Janet Barefield’s Motor home.  Janet made a new dish called Peach and Whiskey Chicken.  She didn’t have any whiskey so she substituted water but it was still very good.
On Tuesday the 14th we drove to Bossier City to get all of our stuff out of the storage building.  We rented a U-Haul trailer so we didn’t have to try to get everything in the back of the pick-up. The scooters are especially difficult to get in there and pack everything around them without damage. 

When we returned to Alvarado we decided to purchase a small trailer to use for storage and easier transporting of our extra stuff.  Wednesday we bought a 6’ X 10’trailer with a side door and a Ramp door in the rear.  We need to install a couple of shelves or something in there yet but it works a lot better than packing everything in the back of the pick-up.
We spent the next 2 days installing wheel chocks and tie down hooks for the scooters and loading every thing else into the trailer. 

Thursday Noon we met a bunch of our friends in Cleburne TX, for lunch at the Grand Buffett.  Another day of over indulgence.  Then Friday afternoon we found out we were requested, by the drilling company we had worked for down by Pointblank, to come back.  We decided as long as they requested us to come back we would accept that rather than waiting for this other job to start up.  So, Saturday morning we pulled up stakes and moved back to Pointblank and got set up and ready to start work right away Sunday morning. 

It turned out to be a smart decision as the other job didn’t start until February 5th which would have been another extra 9 days off.  Another good thing is we found out this job could last another 60 or 90 days, which could be perfect for our plans to take a couple months off for the summer to go visiting in Minnesota.  If it only lasts the 60 days we can still accept a short term assignment somewhere, just so we can get further north before the real heat of summer sets in down here. 

So far we’ve only had 2 sunny days all the while on this job site and the forecast doesn’t look very bright.  We had a 2 inch deep puddle of mud in front of our steps so the well crew sent a grader in and scooped the mud out and scraped some of the road base into the same spot. it’s not perfect but it should be better, although we haven’t had enough rain the past couple days to test it out. We did have a little snow a couple days back, but no accumulation to speak of.
That’s everything in a nut shell up to now.  Thanks for Stopping by!
Dave & Sue with the Dachshund Security Team  Winking smile

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Total Communication

Up until a week ago we were at the mercy of mother nature and our surrounding terrain for our communication needs or lack thereof. Whenever we had rain or fog we couldn’t receive a signal for any communications what so ever. Part of the problem was the distance from the cell towers and the fact that we are so low with the tall trees surrounding our pad. This included our cell phones, either voice or texting as well as our internet capabilities. When the weather was good, we could get a weak signal if we stood outside on the road.
We bought a booster system and I finally got it fully installed and operational last week. After reading several reviews and getting recommendations from people who had them in their RVs, I bought the Wilson Electronics - SOHO - Cell Phone Signal Booster kit from Amazon.com. It included almost everything I needed to install the system including the, outdoor antenna, booster unit, indoor antenna and 2 antenna cables with several adapters..image (2)image (5)image

I wanted to install a lightning surge suppressor and the necessary antenna cable to hook it in, so I had to order those pieces separately. After receiving those items, I was able to install the antenna cable through the generator box into the living area by using the smaller diameter extension cable and drilling only one 3/8” hole. Each portion of the kit came with it’s own installation instructions but even with out the instructions, any mechanically inclined person would be able to figure out the system in short order.

A couple of things I discovered while setting this system up; you should try to make the locations of the interior antenna and the booster units temporary until you have tried using your phones and or Internet cards. After installing everything, I discovered that I got a very week signal once I was out of the living area and only a moderate signal within 5 or 6 feet of the interior antenna. By moving the booster unit closer to the floor, and further from the interior antenna, the signal increased significantly. I’m not sure why that worked so well, but we now have phone reception throughout the motorhome and outdoors with a limit of about 25 or 30 feet. We can even use our MiFi unit inside or outside as well.
While I was waiting for the Booster system to arrive by snail mail, I went ahead and built a platform and stairs, so we can get in and out of the Motor Home.    image (6)    Now we can exit the Motorhome safer and quicker than with the slippery metal swing-out steps that we’ve been using. I should have done that 2 years ago! The dogs like it as well. Even crippled up old Molly can navigate these steps.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thanks for stopping by; till next time…..
Dave, Sue, Molly, Jody and Lucy

Saturday, November 30, 2013

New Dawn, New Job

We had a going away party of sorts with a fish fry with all sorts of goodies to go with it on Monday, Oct 7th with our friends and co-workers on Whitney Lake TX. We were anticipating leaving for our new job on Tuesday morning but that didn’t happen.photo 1 (2)photo 2 (2)photo 3photo 4photo 5 Sorry, these are a little fuzzy due in part to the low light and maybe part due to operator error.

According to Dave Gunter, we had to have 2 Going Away parties before one took. Smilephoto 2  The second one being on Wednesday, Oct 9th. We sat around a camp fire and roasted marshmallows while visiting with our friends. Well, it must have worked because the next morning we got the call to head out to Bossier City LA.

Reality Check; This new job as a Gate Guard is definitely a change from the cushy Gate Attendant gig we had with the USACE. No more air conditioned Office to take shelter in. We have already had more rainy days since arriving at our new digs near Bossier City LA, than we had during 2 seasons at Cedron Creek Park. It’s not really too bad working out of our own “home”, especially when it’s a slow Sunday morning.   photo 1 (3)

Wednesday Oct 22nd
We are getting to know some of the people here, or rather I thought we were, but now we had another shift change and a few new faces this morning. It seems they are letting about a third of the crew off for 2 weeks every week. All I know for sure is that part of the people coming on now, were not here when we started this job.
All 3 dogs seem to be doing well here at our new digs. A few days ago Lucy was sitting on the back of the sofa watching a Surveyor across the field from where we are parked. As I watched her I noticed that occasionally her eyes would go closed as she was sitting there in the warm sunshine. She was sitting rather precariously and occasionally letting out a low growl, when she must have fallen asleep, and in slow motion, toppled over backwards and landed in a pile on the cushions.  photo 3 (2)  She kind of looked around to see if I had caused her fall then promptly hopped up onto the back of the sofa and resumed her “job” of watching the surveyor.
Well, I think I should finally post this edition and start a new one. Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time from Dave, Sue and the 3 poisonous wiener dogs.
                                      Disappointed smile

Sunday, September 29, 2013

In Anticipation of Our Next Move!

We are so near our move date I can almost smell it. Then we are off to, Who Knows Where, for Gate Guard Services for hopefully 6 to 9 months of work. The plan is to then take a couple months off and visit friends and family back in Minnesota, then back South to Texas for the winter again. If they don’t keep us busy enough through this winter, we can always bid on another COE Gate Attendant Job for next summer. So, we have a few options to fall back on.

We have one more day (Monday) to work, then we get to check out on Tuesday morning. This year we have to bring all our paperwork, and anything that has been issued to us over the course of the summer, down to the Corps Office ourselves. Last year we were able to check out right here at the gate house while the Ranger in charge of the Contractors made the rounds to each of the gate houses. I can understand the reasoning behind the change. With about 12 Contractor Teams checking out, the paperwork is less likely to get lost or mixed up with the others.

We have been getting “stuff” packed for the past 5 or 6 days. I don’t know where all this “stuff” comes from! I ended up finding we have 6 hammers; 3 claw and 3 ball-peen. I also came across 3 cordless drills, one of which has dead batteries and a leaf blower with the same problem; time to thin out some “stuff”. New rule in our Motor Home! Out with the old before in with the new! We traded our Rhino Side by Side ATV, for 2 scooters which should equal about a 700 lb. savings and a little more room in the back of the pickup.

We also got the dogs all current with their shots and Lucy is fixed, even though she didn’t know she was broke.
photo (2)
Notice Molly by Sue's feet.

My Dr. appointments are taken care of as well as current prescriptions up to date and the next 3 month supplies delivered on Thursday. Gotta like that Express Scripts Home Delivery. Now I just have to remember to update our address before the next fill time comes around.
We had a slight problem with that address thing when I was in the hospital last April. The Tri Care insurance gets the address of coverage from the Express Scripts information. It wasn’t any problem for Express Scripts to have a physical address and a mailing address, however Tri care picks up the mailing address only so they thought we were living in Minnesota rather than Texas so they weren't going to cover my hospital stay here in Texas. It took several days and a 4 way telephone conference call to figure out the problem, but they finally covered the bill. Thank God, because I don’t know where we would have come up with almost $200,000.
During one of our moves to McCown Day use park, I noticed the Imperial (Motor Home) was running a little hot. Now this was during a cool morning and that trip is only 3 miles, so I was more than a little concerned. About 3 years ago I had taken the rear heater core out and had a leak repaired. Evidently the guy didn’t do a very good job, because it started leaking again about 2 weeks later. When I tried to call the guy he had already gone out of business. As Andy on another blog ( myoldrv.com )puts it, “another 80%er” gone. Well, I made a bad move of my own and put in a couple of bottles of stop leak to hold it over until I could find another repair shop. I guess time got away from me and my mind isn't as sharp as it used to be, so here I am in a predicament I shouldn’t be in.  A few weeks ago we took the Imperial  out for an exercise run and to get the radiator flushed, OH what nasty stuff! It resembled oatmeal coming out of the radiator. The guys at The Valvoline Shop in Whitney did a great job flushing out all that nasty gunk but I am still stuck with the leak in the rear heater core. There’s another item on my to do list before we head out on our new adventure in a few days. I’m going to get a piece of copper tubing to stick between the hoses for the time being. We don’t really need the heat here in Texas anyway. Mother nature is supplying us with plenty yet this fall, although it has cooled down about 20 degrees the past couple of weeks.  Along with the cooler weather comes rain and some very interesting critters.

I think this is a walking stick on the Imperial’s mirror.
Well I best get back on task here!
Thanks for stopping by:
Dave, Sue, Molly, Jody and Lucy

Sunday, August 4, 2013

    August 2013, Lake Whitney, Texas

This is part of the crew we worked with At
Waco North RV Park in West, TX
Well we are down to 2 months left on our Army Corps of Engineers Contract. It has been a fun and interesting 2 years. We probably won’t bid the summer positions again, however we may bid on winter positions after we earn enough money to upgrade our motor home to something with a little more room.

     It looks like we are going to try our hand working as Gate Guards on the Oil Fields. There seems to be a fair demand for those positions. We have some friends, Dick and Judy Mott that have been down south of San Antonio for about a month now as Gate Guards, and are enjoying doing it. They’ve had to make some adjustments to some of the things they do but overall it has been a good experience and good money. We are going down to Corpus Christi sometime this month to get the ball rolling so to speak, then as soon as we are released from here on Sept 30th, we will head south hoping to get a gate assignment right away. We need to get a position before the “Winter Texans get down here right after Thanksgiving. We’re hoping they will keep us busy for about 7 or 8 months, then we will take a couple months off, then back to work again next fall. We're both looking forward to another adventure in our semi retirement years! We also love the fact that they don't require us to shovel the heat down here!

     With the hot summer down here in Texas, our Rhino Side by Side just wasn’t working out. It had a heat duct running between the seats and there was no way to shut it off. Then there was the fact that the Corps didn’t allow anyone else to bring their ATVs in the park unless it was licensed for highway use. Texas doesn’t license ATVs anymore so they are out of luck. We didn’t feel comfortable driving it while there were people in the park because it looks like it is OK for them to do the same, so other than a few days early in the week when there weren’t very many people here we didn’t use it to make rounds. Another fact was it didn’t get any better fuel mileage than our pickup, so there wasn’t any advantage there. A few of the other Gate Attendants used small scooters to make rounds, so we started looking for a small Scooter to use for making rounds with. We stopped into Waco Motor Sports to see what they had. To make a long story short, we ended up trading the Rhino for 2 New Scooters with Covers, Helmets, Storage Pods, 2 quarts of oil and a nice pair of leather driving gloves for Sue. One of the Scooters is a 2013 Tymco 50cc so Sue doesn’t need a motorcycle endorsement on her drivers license. The other one is a 2012 Tymco 150cc. It was a demo unit with about 25 miles on it. The best part is they get about 85 mpg for the 150cc and well over 100 mpg on the 50cc.

Notice how petite Lucy Looks compared to Molly
      On Friday ,Aug 2nd, our little Lucy got her last shots and also got fixed. She sure had an awful time with that big funnel over her head. We finally removed it on Sunday and she hasn’t bothered her wound all that much and is much happier. She hasn’t grown much since she joined our family but has certainly developed quite a personality. She has also grown very fond of Johnnie, one of our Gate Attendant partners. Sue has dubbed Johnnie the Godfather. He always gets her going and all excited till she pees, then he gives her a treat. Just the opposite of what we want, but it makes an old fart happy.



Lucy alongside Jody

Still Sue's Favorite "Velcro Dog"
Surprisingly Molly is still doing rather well other than she refuses to go with Sue on her early morning walks anymore, so it is just Jody and Lucy. One thing that surprised us all though is, Molly started riding on the scooter with me in the mornings while doing rounds. She sits on the floor board between my feet and peeks around the cowling to see where we are going. Now I have to see if I can get Jody to ride with me. That could prove to be really interesting as one time I tried to get her to ride with me in the Rhino Side by Side, and she leapt off the seat as soon as I started the engine. I did finally get her to ride with but it was a challenge to hold her still.

     Sue’s walking partner, Ruth, is moving into an apartment in Whitney, so she won’t be out here every morning anymore. So I guess it will be up to me to motivate her to get up a little earlier to walk with me. It really is tough to get motivated on those mornings when it hasn’t cooled down much, which has been the case the past couple of weeks. We’ll probably have another week of the temps getting over 100° then we should be on the down hill slide heading towards Fall.

I guess we better get busy and change our sign.
     We’re looking forward to seeing some of our Family members in Oklahoma when we go up for Michael and Katelynn’s Wedding in September. We’ll be boarding the dogs so we don’t have to worry about what to do with them on our trip. We’re planning on switching a day of work with Janet and Johnnie so we can stay up there an extra day.

     I guess I’m running out of things to ramble on about so I’ll sign off for now. Thanks for stopping by our Blog, and we’ll write again later.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hi everyone:-)
Well, we finally finished up our fill in job at McCown Valley Park this past Sunday. It was Memorial Weekend, and it was super busy over there. The other couple that works week days over there worked the Day Use Gate to take part of the load off the main gate. We had to close down the Boat Ramp for about an hour because of a lack of parking available. The other couple had to shut down the Day-use part for the same reason.

Sue with Lucy
We gained a new member to our family on Saturday, May 18th. A couple came in and had a couple dogs and Sue reminded them to keep their dogs on a leash. The Lady said they just found the one at a Wal-Mart parking lot and was looking for a good home for it. About that time a little brown head poked in the air in the back of their pickup in an oversized cage. The lady hopped out of their pick-up and took the little dog out of the cage and brought it over to the gate house window to show Sue. Well the next thing I knew, we were back to a three dog family again.

We think she is part Chihuahua and part Dachshund, but not positive. The Vet wasn't sure either so I guess we'll  have to wait until she matures and decide at that time, in the mean time we'll call her a Chiweiny, or Mexican Hot Dog
We only had one day off this week and spent most of it at the Vet's office and running errands. Today we are filling in for our co-workers Johnnie and Janet for their Family re-union here at the Cedron Creek Camp Ground Group Camp and Shelter. We owed them time for when they worked for us while I was in the hospital.
Next weekend we have one Dr. appointment just for a blood draw, then we will be looking over a couple camp grounds that will be open for bid this fall for the winter Gate Attendant Positions. Then we will have a better idea of which ones we will want to bid on for our winter job. Hopefully we will be able to find another Corps Camp Ground further north for next summer. Then we will have our winters and summers switched around the way we want.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I have so much to say about the past month and I don’t know where to start. I guess the beginning would be the smart way to do it, so here goes.

 Tuesday morning I got turned loose from the Hospital and was back in the Gate House working by about 1pm. The cardiologist just said to do nothing strenuous for a while. I’m pretty sure that a Gate Attendant position qualifies as non strenuous!

The Corps lost their “B” team for the weekend Gate Attendants at McCown Valley Park, which is just on the other side of Whitney Lake from where we are here at Cedron Creek. They quit after only one day on the job. Here-say has it that their excuse was that it wouldn’t allow enough time for traveling with their friends, or something to that effect. We were asked if we could fill in at the end of April as the “A” team over there would work 7 days a week but only until April 30th. That means we will be working 7 days a week but only until May 31, at which time the Corps temporary funding for us would run out.
As we were dealing with my heart attack, we also were dealing with our Emma's back injury. She evidently had jumped off the bed while we were at work just before I went into the hospital. Sue was trying to Dr. her as best she could, as well as driving to Waco to visit me. Well after administering some Steroid medication and trying to keep her resting comfortably, we still lost her. Her internal organs started shutting down and eventually she passed away on April 27th.

We have worked the past 2 weekends at McCown and other than being super busy compared to here at Cedron, but we handled it with ease. Instead of commuting back and forth we have been moving the motor home over there for the 3 days so we were able to tend to the dogs on a more regular basis and prepare meals much easier.

On Monday, May 13th we found out that a couple, we met this past winter, are taking over the weekend duties at McCown as of the first of June. They worked that same park during the past 2 winters so they will have no learning curve to go through. Even though the extra money is nice, we are glad that we won’t have to work 7 days a week all summer. We still might help occasionally at the McCown Day-Use Gate House if they don’t find anyone to work it. (17 days and counting)